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Fmr. Speaker Williams Eyes Unicoi Co. in Redistricting

It wasn’t clear if Rep. Kent Williams was spilling the beans on something he knew or whether he was speculating, but he introduced himself at an East Tennessee business roundtable this week by saying he would pick up Unicoi County as part of his district next year.

That would be, of course, if Williams wins re-election.

Gov. Bill Haslam went around the room having members of the General Assembly introduce themselves to business leaders from the region at a roundtable in Kingsport Tuesday.

Lawmakers took turns giving their names and the districts they represent by generally saying which counties their districts include. Heretofore, Williams, from Elizabethton, has represented Carter County, and his page on the official website of the General Assembly lists him as a “Carter County Republican” as opposed to being simply a Republican.

The “CCR” designation dates to when Williams was disowned by the Republican Party for his deal that made him Speaker of the House in the 2009-2010 General Assembly. Williams, a recognized Republican at the time, struck a deal with the Democrats where he won the speakership by getting every Democrat to support him and by voting for himself, upsetting many Republicans.

When it came Williams’ turn to introduce himself on Tuesday, he said, “I used to say Carter County, but with redistricting coming up, I say ‘4th District’ now, because I think the 4th District is probably going to incorporate Unicoi County.

“I would be proud to serve Unicoi County if I get the opportunity.”

Unicoi County is currently in the 5th District, represented by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville.

Williams added that he is a former Speaker of the House, although most of the people in the room clearly would know that.

“I enjoy doing what I’m doing and enjoy working with my colleagues,” Williams said.

Other legislators in the meeting were Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, and Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.

Republicans are drawing the lines for redistricting, power won by virtue of their strong majority status attained in the 2010 elections. Speculation has been rampant over what the designers of districts would do, both in terms of legislative districts and congressional districts based on the 2010 census.

Press Releases

House GOP Energy Task Force Named

Press Release from the House Republican Caucus, April 11, 2011:

Representative from Kingsport Leads Committee to Explore Energy Initiatives for Tennessee, Five Other Members Selected to Serve

(May 3, 2011, NASHVILLE) – The House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R—Chattanooga) today announced the formation of a Republican Caucus Energy Task Force in the House of Representatives.

In a letter released by the Majority Leader, the group—comprised of six House Members—will “explore the various ways that the energy industry can provide a positive impact on job growth and economic development in our State.” The task force will “seek input from various outside groups, including the Department of Economic and Community Development.” The group will report back to the full Republican Caucus on the results of their study on this subject.

Representative Tony Shipley (R—Kingsport) was appointed by the Majority Leader to serve as Chairman of the task force because of his long track record dealing with energy development issues. Additionally, the following Representatives were appointed to the group: John Forgety (R—Athens), Julia Hurley (R—Lenoir City), Kelly Keisling (R—Byrdstown), Dennis Powers (R—Jacksboro), and John Ragan (R—Oak Ridge).

“Energy independence is a critical factor for the long-term strength of our State and nation,” said the Majority Leader. “While we may not be able to solve some of the long-term issues our country is facing, I do think we can put our heads together to develop innovative ways for Tennessee to lead in the energy sector while, at the same time, providing a much-needed source for job development for our citizens. I know the members of this task force will take their responsibility seriously and I look forward to hearing what Representative Shipley ultimately presents to our Majority.”

Rep. Shipley stated, “I am grateful to be called upon to lead this task force. Energy development, particularly with clean coal technology is a vital issue to Upper East Tennessee and the overall welfare of our State. I look forward to studying ways we can impact job growth and economic development in Tennessee through the prism of energy independence.”

“This is a great opportunity to work toward common sense energy policies that will unleash job growth in Tennessee. I know many of my constituents are interested in seeing what this task force will report back to the Majority,” said Rep. Forgety.

“Roane County and Loudon County are at the center of commerce in East Tennessee. Anything we can do to study and enhance the energy capabilities of our State will not only benefit my district, but our entire region,” remarked Rep. Hurley.

Rep. Keisling added, “I believe this task force will develop solutions for both energy issues and economic issues Tennessee is facing. It is honor to join this group and help our State move forward.”

“Our Majority has a clear goal to pave the way for job creation in Tennessee,” said Rep. Powers. “I am confident this task force will play an integral role in unlocking economic development in Tennessee’s energy sector.”

Rep. Ragan concluded, “Our State has a rich tradition in energy development. As the Representative for Oak Ridge, it is an honor to serve on this task force and help our whole State identify innovative solutions for our nation’s energy questions.”

The six Members of the Republican Caucus Energy Task Force represent a wide array of economic interests and energy development opportunities throughout the State that include refineries, coal sites, industrial parks, and access to major interstates for shipping.